Mahatma Gandhi


Currently preparing the syllabi for four-year programmes for several subjects under the National Education Policy, Delhi University has replaced a paper on Mahatma Gandhi in semester V of BA (Hons) Political Science with one on Hindutva ideologue, VD Savarkar leading to a lot of discontent among academic circles.

The National Education Policy introduced the concept of a four-year degree course of eight semesters following which, the University is now currently devising a formal syllabus for all subjects. What caused great discontent among the academic circle, was the replacement of Gandhi with Savarkar in the BA Political Science (Hons) curriculum. The ideologies of VD Savarkar will now be taught in semester V while Mahatma Gandhi has been shifted to semester VII, allege several DU teachers, adding that this would mean students opting for a three-year graduation course instead of a four-year programme will not study Gandhi.

The motion in this regard was passed at the Academic Council meeting on Friday, May 26, inviting heavy dissatisfaction among a section of teachers, who deemed it as a ‘saffronisation’ of education and an ‘attempt to compare Gandhi and Savarkar’. The final call in this matter will be taken by the Executive Council, the highest decision-making body in DU.

Previously, the curriculum included a paper on Gandhi in semester V and Ambedkar in semester VI. However, the council also decided to introduce Savarkar in the syllabus, under the National Education Policy. Academic Council member, Alok Pandey commented that the proposal to teach Savarkar in semester V at the ‘cost’ of Gandhi was disagreed upon in the standing committee meeting, where it was decided to teach Gandhi in semester V, Savarkar in VI and Ambedkar in VII, as per their age chronology. However, the resolution was brought to the Academic Council meeting despite the disagreement.

Opposing the move, Rajesh Jha, a former Executive Council member said that students should be exposed to Gandhi in initial semesters to develop ‘critical thinking’ as Gandhian ideas are ‘inclusive’ and ‘reflect the collective consciousness of our freedom struggle’. He also adds that Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy ‘stands for good politics as well as good individuals’ and hence, teaching Gandhi before Savarkar would have prepared students to understand the latter’s thought in a ‘broader and more balanced perspective.’

As per the PTI review, ‘Understanding Gandhi’ was previously a paper in semester V which aimed to acquaint students with the social and political thoughts of the Mahatma. The course objective mentions that the themes in Gandhian thought that are chosen for close reading are ‘particularly relevant to our times.’

While all these issues have been burning, the Vice Chancellor, Yogesh Singh refused several PTI calls to comment on the matter.

Several such major shifts have been observed in the syllabus of other courses as well, as the University gradually revamps its educational curriculum according to the National Education Policy, leading to growing discontent among teachers and students alike.


Read Also: DU Standing Committee Proposes to Drop History Elective Course on Caste and Gender

Featured Image Credits: DU Updates (Google Images)


Priyanka Mukherjee

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Though for some Indians, Mahatma was an embodiment of utopianism and idealism whose methods of resistance yielded results slowly and with a lot of suffering, despite all the delay he was a portrayal of tolerance and endurance which stand very much relevant in the contemporary times.

In one of my classroom discussions, one of my classmates commented coldly, “Gandhi is only an image in India today” and this was seconded by many of my other friends. One of my friends asked me about why I had been romanticising about Gandhian philosophy when his utopian ideals of non-violence and Satyagraha are far away from the jarring reality of the everyday life of Indians. This may be true, I thought. But the impact of his philosophy on many iconic leaders of the 20th century like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. etc. express the apocalyptic mode of political thinking that can be invoked as a Gandhian moment.

Gandhi became a part of the moral conscience of humanity and his universal message could be measured by his profound impact on all forms of dissent against unjust regimes. A genuine appreciation of Gandhi’s relevance can only be made against his civic philosophy of dissent. The Gandhian audacity of asking questions on modernity and Western hegemony expresses his critical thinking and this is what is lacking in our today’s generation. Such an attitude of mind exemplifies the Socratic aspect which is absent in many political leaders of today- courage. All political leaders are reduced to only being politicians and India still awaits another iconic leader in the true self who will lead all of us to freedom from orthodoxy, poverty, and disdain.

Gandhi always held that Satyagraha implied the willingness to accept not only suffering but also death for the sake of a true cause. When confronted by mobs or political authority, Gandhi had no fear of the state or a tyrannical crowd. For Gandhi, the process of dialogue and endless questioning is considered as the most productive and dissenting thinking in the public space. This is where Gandhi’s conception of democracy becomes relevant and important to us as students of University- be it BHU, JNU or DU. Democracy just cannot function with no sense of ethics and morality. An individual needs to fulfill one’s civic duty of participating in a community and as an end to attain political and moral resistance to all forms of tyranny. Let the shadows of Gandhi continue to teach us what is ‘self-realisation’, ‘protest’ and resistance because this may not be made a part of pragmatic public policy but can duly serve as an ethical force for citizens to stand up for the principles they represent.

Image Credits– The Huffington Post India


Oorja Tapan

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If we look around the world today, it seems like peace has become a long dream for some people in their countries. Air Strikes, religious wars, terror strikes and bomb blasts- all of these makes us want to remember a man who taught us the lessons of non-violence and peace, for the world to follow.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is known as Mahatma Gandhi or also fondly as “Bapu” was one of the most prominent faces of the freedom struggle in India. A master strategist, he formulated several unique ways to unite Indians for the cause against British rule. Sunil Khilnani, the professor of Politics and Director of King’s College London India Institute remarked “Steve Jobs should have learnt from Gandhi about how to build a perfect brand of oneself.”

A mass leader, he had such a great following that on one single call, the whole nation used to unite and walk behind him, following his lead. Be it during the Champaran movement, Kheda Satyagraha or Quit India movement, Gandhi made sure that the entire country was with him. So powerful was his message of non-violence that even today he is followed by powerful leaders like Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. So phenomenal was his contribution to our freedom that no political party has critiqued him any sense ever since we gained independence, unlike other freedom fighters like Jawaharlal Nehru and Bhagat Singh, who too, found themselves in various debates of political battles.

With the education system in India battling today to create skilled professionals and our society and parents in a frenzy to create the next generation of engineers and doctors, we should revisit what views Gandhi had on education. His views focused on the fact that education should never be a means to achieve status, position or earn money, rather it should be the means to bring freedom to individuals. He focused on an education that aimed at holistic development of mind and body.

As the incumbent government rolls out the national educational policy 2016, holistic development of a human, discouraging rote learning, and inculcating compassion for others are just few pages that it can pick up from Gandhi’s life to shape the future generation. A simple look at our newspaper says why we need to remember the story of Gandhi. As cases of road rage, Dalit atrocities and religious intolerance covers major media space today, we should learn from the man who served leprosy patients at his time.

The idea of Gandhi is not an all well story. Often Gandhi and his works are taught in such a way in schools across our country that he is portrayed as a saint. The way Gandhi overshadows the freedom struggle over other leaders in Indian School textbooks is something not many people approve of. He is also criticized for not being able to stop the partition of India and Pakistan. A lot of people today joke the concept of ‘if you are slapped by your enemy on one cheek, show your other cheek’ which drew its inspiration from Gandhi’s message of winning your enemy with love rather than war. Today he has been reduced to a mere symbol of freedom struggle for the masses and the government through its huge advertisements on his birthday every year. He is also criticised by some people for promoting racism and the practice of caste system in India and South Africa.

As we all observe the 147th birth anniversary of one of the greatest human beings on the planet, we shouldn’t forget this philosopher who gave the mighty British Empire a tough fight with his weapons of Satyagraha and non-violence. With growing tensions in the South Asian neighborhood, unrest in Middle East countries and tussles within the major superpowers, we don’t know about what is going to happen in the near future. Even in this uncertainty, we are very certain that Gandhi is an idea which is not going to die any time soon in this century, and we hope that it never does.

Image Credits: www.rajyasabha.nic.in

Srivedant Kar

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Indraprastha College for Women organized the third Round Table Conference on Gandhi on the theme ‘Gandhi and Food’ on 8th April, 2016.
The session began with a welcome note by the Principal, Dr. Babli Moitra Saraf, who acquainted the audience with the idea of the Round Table Conference and the theme of the third edition. She mentioned that the incidents involving beef ban and the contentious issue of cow slaughter that gave rise to religious tensions recently, were, what triggered discussion on this topic. As per the Concept Note of the Conference, in the Gandhian discourse, food is not just what one eats, but is visualized as a paradigm that exhibits a range of issues. The whole exercise of the conference was perceived to be useful to engage and confront many key quandaries of our times, and answer many conundrums ranging from diet control for personal reasons, being vegetarian on moral grounds, fasting for religious or political expediency, to debate contestations between right to culture and food choices.

Shri Anil Nauriya, Advocate and Member, National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi, delivered the introductory remarks, and quoted instances and anecdotes of Gandhi’s meetings with different people, Sam Higginbottom and Richard Gregg to name a few. This was followed by 12 well-fleshed out paper presentations. Dr. Madhulika Banerjee, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi and Dr. Babli Moitra Saraf, Principal, Indraprastha College for Women judged these paper presentations.

The students presented a variety of riveting and thought-provoking presentations, ranging from a critique of Gandhi’s moral basis of vegetarianism to food in the context of Brahmacharaya as perceived by Gandhi in his times, with peppy titles like “You are not what you eat”. A plethora of viewpoints were discussed: how food is a cult in itself, and how unless there’s moral disgust in animal slaughter, there’s no moral superiority associated with vegetarianism.

The first prize was awarded to Asmita Jagwani, who presented the paper on “Food Asceticism: The Gandhian Grammar of Diet” where she explored the idea of gastro politics, explaining that for Gandhi, vegetarianism was a way of life that  was rooted in his moral convictions and not just an adherence to a filial vow. She was praised by the judges who mentioned that “such sophistication of rhetoric as a means of persuasion leaves you stupefied.” The second position was bagged by a team comprising of Anamika Dass and Ateka Hasan who explored food from the perspective of untouchability. Prerna Mishra, who explored “Salt and Satyagraha” in her paper, was adjudged as the winner of the third position. A judges’ special mention was awarded to Nihita Kumari who spoke on how food was a weapon for Gandhi. All winners were given cash prizes.

Dr. Jyoti Trehan Sharma, the Conference Convener, explained the philosophy behind the theme, and also drew the attention of the audience to the significance of the date when the conference was being held, as the date coincided when Gandhi got arrested at Palwal in 1919, just a few days before the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Punjab. This was also the date when in 1929, Bhagat Singh, alongwith Sukhdev and Rajguru, made his motherland echo with the slogan “Inquilab Zindabad”.

The Judges congratulated the participants on building such relevant arguments that led to a very pertinent discourse. They also provided constructive feedback and inputs on the same.

The round table conference at IPCW

Image Credits: Kritika Narula

Kritika Narula

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Most of the people sporting colourful LiveStrong Bands on their wrists are blissfully unaware of the message these simple strips of plastics convey. Lance Armstrong, the man who fought against Testicular Cancer and yet lived to continue his journey as the Iconic Road-racing Cyclist and Triathlete, wasstripped off his laurels, including the seven prestigious Tour De France titles, after being suspected of using drugs to enhance his performance. Once the coin flipped, a man who was the face of strength after his overwhelming recovery from a terminal disease is now a black mark on the American mantle of greatest sports personalities. Even his wealthy sponsors have turned their back to him, watching in embarrassment as the legend’s name is slowly wiped off history’s wall of fame.

To be an icon is almost synonymous with having no personal life. Media hawks, the government, the critics, as well as the ardent fans wait for the moment their revered star stumbles.The minute there is a personal blemish on his or her perfect record, there is absolutely no scope for improvement. The press released the multitude of extra-marital affairs of the golfing giant Tiger Woods, bringing him down to his knees. The world condemned him for being a promiscuous playboy, a fact that should’ve been left to his bedroom instead of being plastered across newspapers and websites for weeks. A man known and well appreciated for his Golf was suddenly less of a star due to his personal weaknesses, which had absolutely nothing to do with his achievements in his sport.

Political leaders are not spared either. Mohandas Gandhi’s memory is now being defiled by constant comments on his personal activities. A man who claimed to lead a simple and austere life shocked the country when reports of his sexual experiments were revealed. As unnerving as that might have been, what people fail to understand is that Gandhi was known for his non-violent victory against colonial rule in India, not for whether or not he remained a chaste man. As scandalous and reproachful as his personal life might seem, there is no denying that he was an extraordinary man who played a major role in bringing India its much-delayedfreedom. Armstrong’s case might be a bit different as failing the dope test is a huge deal in the sporting world, yet it seems quite unfair to forget his highly inspiring fight against cancer, something that kindled faith in the hearts of innumerable people across the globe.

“We will move forward,” announced Lance Armstrong as he continues to claim his innocence, words that seem to echo the hopes of all those iconic men and women who were punished for having human flaws. The only thing left to see is whether the Plastic bands continue to Live-strong on wrists across the world.


The Indian government has always made pretentious claims about idealism and socialism, yet goes on banning books – a distortion of the freedom of expression – to claim their supremacy. About 20 books are officially banned in India currently, and imports of many others are denied by the customs department.

But are the bans really worth it? With greater permissiveness and social freedom, uncensored copies of the book are anyway floating freely on internet.

Indian writers and economists have said much harsher things. Yet, in all these years nobody has bothered to take them into consideration. Analysts from Reporters Without Borders rank India 131st in the world in terms in their Press Freedom Index, falling from 80th just 11 years earlier. Here are top 5 books that are censored in India.


1) The Satanic Verses

Amongst the oldest, yet youngest controversy as is evident from incidences of Jaipur literature festival. India was the first Country to ban the Book following the hostile response from the Muslims all over the Globe. He has been in a hiding for over a decade. Fatwa was imposed on Rushdie by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini for demeaning Islam. Rushdie had to live in hiding for nearly a decade.

2) The Great Soul

Joseph Lelyveld, the Pulitzer Prize winner and former executive editor of The New York Times penned a biography, “The Great Soul”, inspired by Gandhi’s life in India and South Africa. The reviews claimed that the book exposed Gandhi’s sexual life and bigoted views. Reacting to it, the book was called for a ban in Gujarat, Gandhi’s hometown has. But imposition of nationwide ban was abjured, citing Lelyveld’s clarification. Still book is not let inside India by customs department.

3) Nine Hours to Rama

Nine Hours to Rama written by historian Wolpert, a professor at University of California. This book is a fictional account of last day of Gandhiji’s lije and focuses on how Nathuram Godse planned Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. It got banned because it exposed the poor security provided to Gandhi, and hinted at possible incompetence and conspiracy.

4) Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D.H. Lawrence was considered as obscene because it was an account of a women’s illegitimate relationship with her Gardner. It has depiction of sex and politics gave rise to controversies and was unanimously banned in India and Britain (though Britain lifted up the ban). But the ban is not followed as it should be and you can find books in some stored. The court said that the court does not protect those who take delight in “sexual pleasures and erotic writings”.

5) The Polyester Prince

Australian journalist Hamish McDonald wrote this account of Ambani’s rise in 1998, which remained unavailable in India, partly because of concerns that Ambani would sue if the book got released. The books asserted that many of the rules and regulations were turned down to serve his purpose.  An updated version” Ambani and Sons”, was written down which is available in book stores.